Entertainment

Blog till your death!

The New York Times has an article about blogger’s health and their reluctance to

In Web World of 24/7 Stress, Writers Blog Till They Drop

By MATT RICHTEL
Published: April 6, 2008

SAN FRANCISCO — They work long hours, often to exhaustion. Many are paid by the piece — not garments, but blog posts. This is the digital-era sweatshop. You may know it by a different name: home.

A growing work force of home-office laborers and entrepreneurs, armed with computers and smartphones and wired to the hilt, are toiling under great physical and emotional stress created by the around-the-clock Internet economy that demands a constant stream of news and comment.

Of course, the bloggers can work elsewhere, and they profess a love of the nonstop action and perhaps the chance to create a global media outlet without a major up-front investment. At the same time, some are starting to wonder if something has gone very wrong. In the last few months, two among their ranks have died suddenly.

Two weeks ago in North Lauderdale, Fla., funeral services were held for Russell Shaw, a prolific blogger on technology subjects who died at 60 of a heart attack. In December, another tech blogger, Marc Orchant, died at 50 of a massive coronary. A third, Om Malik, 41, survived a heart attack in December.

Other bloggers complain of weight loss or gain, sleep disorders, exhaustion and other maladies born of the nonstop strain of producing for a news and information cycle that is as always-on as the Internet.

To be sure, there is no official diagnosis of death by blogging, and the premature demise of two people obviously does not qualify as an epidemic. There is also no certainty that the stress of the work contributed to their deaths. But friends and family of the deceased, and fellow information workers, say those deaths have them thinking about the dangers of their work style.

The pressure even gets to those who work for themselves — and are being well-compensated for it.

“I haven’t died yet,” said Michael Arrington, the founder and co-editor of TechCrunch, a popular technology blog. The site has brought in millions in advertising revenue, but there has been a hefty cost. Mr. Arrington says he has gained 30 pounds in the last three years, developed a severe sleeping disorder and turned his home into an office for him and four employees. “At some point, I’ll have a nervous breakdown and be admitted to the hospital, or something else will happen.”

“This is not sustainable,” he said.

It is unclear how many people blog for pay, but there are surely several thousand and maybe even tens of thousands.

The emergence of this class of information worker has paralleled the development of the online economy. Publishing has expanded to the Internet, and advertising has followed.

Even at established companies, the Internet has changed the nature of work, allowing people to set up virtual offices and work from anywhere at any time. That flexibility has a downside, in that workers are always a click away from the burdens of the office. For obsessive information workers, that can mean never leaving the house.

Blogging has been lucrative for some, but those on the lower rungs of the business can earn as little as $10 a post, and in some cases are paid on a sliding bonus scale that rewards success with a demand for even more work.

There are growing legions of online chroniclers, reporting on and reflecting about sports, politics, business, celebrities and every other conceivable niche. Some write for fun, but thousands write for Web publishers — as employees or as contractors — or have started their own online media outlets with profit in mind.

One of the most competitive categories is blogs about technology developments and news. They are in a vicious 24-hour competition to break company news, reveal new products and expose corporate gaffes.

To the victor go the ego points, and, potentially, the advertising. Bloggers for such sites are often paid for each post, though some are paid based on how many people read their material. They build that audience through scoops or volume or both.

Some sites, like those owned by Gawker Media, give bloggers retainers and then bonuses for hitting benchmarks, like if the pages they write are viewed 100,000 times a month. Then the goal is raised, like a sales commission: write more, earn more.

Bloggers at some of the bigger sites say most writers earn about $30,000 a year starting out, and some can make as much as $70,000. A tireless few bloggers reach six figures, and some entrepreneurs in the field have built mini-empires on the Web that are generating hundreds of thousands of dollars a month. Others who are trying to turn blogging into a career say they can end up with just $1,000 a month.

Speed can be of the essence. If a blogger is beaten by a millisecond, someone else’s post on the subject will bring in the audience, the links and the bigger share of the ad revenue.

“There’s no time ever — including when you’re sleeping — when you’re not worried about missing a story,” Mr. Arrington said.

“Wouldn’t it be great if we said no blogger or journalist could write a story between 8 p.m. Pacific time and dawn? Then we could all take a break,” he added. “But that’s never going to happen.”

All that competition puts a premium on staying awake. Matt Buchanan, 22, is the right man for the job. He works for clicks for Gizmodo, a popular Gawker Media site that publishes news about gadgets. Mr. Buchanan lives in a small apartment in Brooklyn, where his bedroom doubles as his office.

He says he sleeps about five hours a night and often does not have time to eat proper meals. But he does stay fueled — by regularly consuming a protein supplement mixed into coffee.

But make no mistake: Mr. Buchanan, a recent graduate of New York University, loves his job. He said he gets paid to write (he will not say how much) while interacting with readers in a global conversation about the latest and greatest products.

“The fact I have a few thousand people a day reading what I write — that’s kind of cool,” he said. And, yes, it is exhausting. Sometimes, he said, “I just want to lie down.”

Sometimes he does rest, inadvertently, falling asleep at the computer.

“If I don’t hear from him, I’ll think: Matt’s passed out again,” said Brian Lam, the editor of Gizmodo. “It’s happened four or five times.”

Mr. Lam, who as a manager has a substantially larger income, works even harder. He is known to pull all-nighters at his own home office in San Francisco — hours spent trying to keep his site organized and competitive. He said he was well equipped for the torture; he used to be a Thai-style boxer.

“I’ve got a background getting punched in the face,” he said. “That’s why I’m good at this job.”

Mr. Lam said he has worried his blogging staff might be burning out, and he urges them to take breaks, even vacations. But he said they face tremendous pressure — external, internal and financial. He said the evolution of the “pay-per-click” economy has put the emphasis on reader traffic and financial return, not journalism.

In the case of Mr. Shaw, it is not clear what role stress played in his death. Ellen Green, who had been dating him for 13 months, said the pressure, though self-imposed, was severe. She said she and Mr. Shaw had been talking a lot about how he could create a healthier lifestyle, particularly after the death of his friend, Mr. Orchant.

“The blogger community is looking at this and saying: ‘Oh no, it happened so fast to two really vital people in the field,’ ” she said. They are wondering, “What does that have to do with me?”

For his part, Mr. Shaw did not die at his desk. He died in a hotel in San Jose, Calif., where he had flown to cover a technology conference. He had written a last e-mail dispatch to his editor at ZDNet: “Have come down with something. Resting now posts to resume later today or tomorrow.”

Lifestyle

These scientist want you to be weak and die

A couple of “Dr’s” did some digging and couldn’t find a study that proved drinking 8 glasses of water a day contributes to human health – despite finding claims that “People in hot, dry climates and athletes have an increased need for water, and people with certain diseases do better with increased fluid intake”

Did they report, why these people needed water in the first place? No. Just that healthy people don’t need 8 glasses because there wasn’t a study that named 8 as the golden number.

Liquid H2O is the sine qua non of life. Making up about 66 percent of the human body, water runs through the blood, inhabits the cells, and lurks in the spaces between. At every moment water escapes the body through sweat, urination, defecation or exhaled breath, among other routes. Replacing these lost stores is essential to rehydration. (Scientific American)

The human body needs water to maintain enough blood and other fluids to maintain proper functioning organs (Kidneys, lungs, liver, skin etc.). Dehydration can result from loss of water and mild to severe results are (some of which we all have experienced from the lack of water intake from a night of drinking – which has been scientifically proved to dehydrate humans) (Rehydration Project):

# cannot pass urine or reduced amounts, dark, yellow
# cramping in the arms and legs
# weakness
# low blood pressure
# fainting
# convulsions
# a bloated stomach
# heart failure
# sunken fontanelle – soft spot on a infants head
# sunken dry eyes, with few or no tears
# skin loses its firmness and looks wrinkled
# lack of elasticity of the skin (when a bit of skin lifted up stays folded and takes a long time to go back to its normal position)
# rapid and deep breathing – faster than normal
# fast, weak pulse

Severe:
# hypovolaemic shock
# diminished consciousness
# cool moist extremities
# a rapid and feeble pulse
# low or undetectable blood pressure
# eripheral cyanosis
# And ultimately Death.

These Dr’s whole premise seems to be around this:
“For average healthy people, more water does not seem to mean better health

Hello. Asshole. This is completely subjective. What’s “average”? What’s “healthy”? How do people get “healthy”? Did drinking water contribute to that “average healthiness”?

Their proof is not that they scientifically disproved the benefits of water (8 glasses a day), is that they could not find scientific research to back these claims.

I would bet that the claim for 8 glasses of water is from a law of averages. Every person is different, some may need 6 some 9 glasses a day. That intake is assumed in not just glasses of water but in the food, soda, fruit and other sources of nourishment that also contain water. An 8 glass a day regiment ensures hydration and avoidance of the symptoms mentioned above.

To announce that not drinking 8 glasses of water a day is not beneficial WITHOUT scientific research to back up this claim is simply irresponsible.

These Dr’s are either very bad at correlating research to justify/disprove this claim, very poor researchers in general, or just making a claim to make a name for themselves in the news… Your call but I have to go piss all over this now that I’ve finished my 6th glass this morning.

Lifestyle

A moment of silence please…

The creator of the best fast food breakfast sandwich has passed: Herb Peterson, the inventor of the Egg McMuffin had passed away at the age of 89. Herb’s invention actually paved the way for McDonald’s to introduce breakfast to McDonald’s restaurants – previously only lunch & dinner were served.

Herb actually began his career with McDonald’s Corp. as vice president of the company’s advertising firm, D’Arcy Advertising. He even wrote McDonald’s first national advertising slogan, “Where Quality Starts Fresh Every Day.” Peterson then became a franchise owner of six McDonald’s restaurants in Santa Barbara and Goleta, California. As a fellow lover of eggs Benedict, the idea of a quick and easy to make replication this was the perfect introduction to the breakfast market, which as of now accounts for 30% of McDonald’s revenue (the breakfast menu).

Head out to your local McyD’s for a sandwich in his honor.

Lifestyle

Rooftop Demo -> Voyeur

Living on the top floor of my building has huge benefits. In the SOHO neighborhood, all the buildings are pre 1950s and have a height limit of 6 floors (a fluid dynamics issue where originally legacy pluming technology and NY’s shallow bedrock results in extremely low water pressure which limits the pumping of water to past the hight of a six story building. Until the advent of modern plumbing, water towers were needed to build pressure in the pipes – I could go into more engineering geek talk then I never excelled in fluid dynamics so the experts are better sources for this: History of Am plumbing & Longtime Emblems of City Roofs [NY Times])…. So I’m on top and the benefits include unobstructed views of the city from my living room, sunlight (a rarity in the tall concrete jungle of nyc) and just an overall feeling of superiority looking down on all that rent/own below me.

I also have the fortunate option of having unobstructed roof access – which is not a right or guarantee of anyone’s lease in this building but it just happens that the roof access door is not locked. Recently the buildings inspector has reviewed our building. I never met him/her but I know they have been here because there’s a new plaque in the lobby with their stamp and inspection numbers. Resulting from the visit, our landlord has had to implement some fixes in the building like hand rails on some of the steps, and child proof window guards. He’s also had his ukranian work force up on the roof all week doing demo work and resealing the roof for cracks and leaks. As a result, all our community roof top furniture (tables and chairs purchased from Kmart) have been removed without warning.

Fuck.

I’m considerably nervous that when they are done with the work, they will be closing off and locking the roof from renter access all together. The access has been an added benefit of renting here and a constant source of summer time parties for our crew of friends. I can deal with the loss of $50 in furniture but if the access goes away, I’m going to get illegal on this and break open the doors next month when it gets to the 70s…

Tonight I was on top surveying the city night as I usually do after a few drinks out. It’s calm and cool from the passing rain. Clear enough again I can see down town and past Empire. Over the years I’ve seen quite some action from near by apartments – none of which I’ve blogged about until now:

The NYU dorms are about 4 blocks away and tower above SOHO. There’s not much action in the summer but every now and then you can catch a house party rocking in one of the rooms with strobes and blacklights or the rich guy 19 yr old with his parents financed 42 in HD TV.

Being on top, I’ve got clear view into all the apartments down to about the 3rd floor. Across the way, there are 2 girls in an apartment with fuschia curtains. Smartly, 80% of the time those coverings are closed but every now and then you’ll catch a lingerie show when they are preparing for a big night out. They must have bf’s because it’s been quite the last few months – not that I’ve really been keeping track.

The apartment directly across from us has gone through a few tenants. This year it’s an emo couple that hand out in their minimalist apt. Mattress on the floor, a refrigerator and a bamboo plant in the window. They probably do heroin all day in between trips to the LES galleries or Brooklyn bars.

Top floor, across the street from us is a lonely burger flipper. He’s always got the lights out when watching tv and tonight I noticed through his window a woman figure on the 52 in TV bobbing up and down relentlessly. Mouth agape… fast forward dialogue…. more bouncing and nakedness… YES! he’s watching porn again with the window blinds open and the lights out… don’t you know that shit is see through!!!

A few months back the3rd floor apt was vacant for the longest time. It looked like someone was renting it as a storage spot with all the crap, dust and wood planks laying around. Then within a few weeks it was gutted, a kitchen was put in and soon after a new female tenant. She wasn’t that cute but in the first few months hadn’t purchased blinds or drapes and often caught her masturbating on the couch and passing out with her hand in the crotch… Ah Namen! I’ll never forget you!!!! Recently she’s either got a partner to satisfy her, she’s purchased covering or I just haven’t been keeping track.

I think the most mesmorising neighborhood scene was last summer. Two buildings away but across W Broadway is a very nice loft apartment building – the bottom store is the local SOHO Coach retail shop. I’m sure all residents own their lofts in this white washed building. I was up on the roof with friends enjoying some Brooklyn lager when I noticed several guys scrambling around the apartment setting up make shift lighting fixtures… Instantly I thought MOVIE set! It happens regularly around here. We pulled up chairs and watched the chaos in the apt when we noticed two naked people sitting in chairs getting their make up done. 20 minutes later, they were banging away on the kitchen counter in the other room with full camera coverage. Live Porno set! Rock-paper-scissors and Greg had to head down to the bodega for another 12er.

All in all I’d say our neighborhood is very quiet. Aside from Milady’s across the street there’s not much going on after 11 here. Most of the residents are established, older and sit comfortably behind closed blinds. There’s limited reality watching but I’m not staring at a dark apt all week awaiting for a glimps of an ass though when you can catch that at any MPD club all week.

I primary hope is that the building inspector doesn’t force the closure of the roof access this summer. More than anything that’s a sanity savor in this rat cage of a city and an instant tanning bed for this pale face.

Lifestyle

Vanishing New York

It’s become apparent to me only living in New York City for a short time, 4 years, that the true flavor of NYC is loosing out to pure capitalistic greed and money. The style, art, creativity and nightlife all seem to be stifled in lieu of those that have vs. those that create. This is apparent in the club scene where the underground is less prevalent, pushed to the outer borrows and unfortunately into more residential areas with less fan fair. It’s persistent in the art and fashion scene which is being cornered by “elite” artists and designers rather than good style and expression. It’s prevalent in the celebrity chef restaurants rather than the highlights of local ethnic fair.

As rent and housing prices continue to escalate here in the city, only those with disposable capital can afford to live here, which means more foreign buyers are coming in and those in high finance are only able to afford to buy, pushing to the outside the locals that have been here for years.

True are the hours and the options of this fine city, but I’ll continue to fight for the local store owners, the underground clubs and art galleys, for quality street art and fashion. One blog I recently found also is trying to highlight the New York that’s is lost. Check it:

Vanishing New York

Entertainment

Maxed Out on Netflix

With the biggest banks falling down like bowling pins from the giant ball of bad financial decisions, so are most Americans (Citibank, Bear Sterns etc.). I’m too not alone when I say I have more debt that I’d like to have. When you live in NY, there’s so much out there to tempt you to spend: events, parties, fashion, bars, plays, movies, shows, whores, and food to name a few. Recession headline loom as home prices fall, gas prices continue to rise as do basic necessities like milk and beer.

All these thoughts have been strummed up this week when I finally rigged up my entertainment system to a wireless computer viz S-video connections. I can now watch all streaming videos, movies and TV (full screen) on my TV in surround or stereo sound. This is sweet! No more need to go to any video store, pay for on-demand or even buy porn! Neflix on demand service has become a reality and the picture is great.

So my first movie on demand was a documentary (not many of the blockbusters are available on demand for fear from the movie industry that the consumer will steal/copy them, and they wouldn’t make money). I watched Maxed Out, a frightening look at the rising level of personal and national debt in the USA with a huge emphasis on the victims as well as the banking tactics that contribute to the mis-education and coercion of the consumer to continue deeper into that debt with misleading offers or revolving door credit.

Typical consumers feeding into the hugely powerful societal push for the best, newest, biggest shit find using that plastic for a new shirt or the latest unique line of sneakers or a new flat screen is enticing. I’ve good about controlling my will power by not participating, partly due to a conscious choice to reduce my debt, increase my capital (get liquid), and focus on financing some important personal goals like our wedding and more travel. It’s bit-my-tongue tough to do this in NY. I hold back from that last $12 whiskey (my body thanks me though in th morning), I only by brand names at century 21 or stick with smaller, lesser known fashion designers (1Aeon), or opt for a smaller tapas spot rather than the steakhouse for Tuesday dinner (if I’m not chefin it up at home).

Maxed Out had also a very striking quote that is important to consider when voting for all future federal, state and local political candidates:

“The government spends more [of the national budget fund] on interest payments [to the national debt], than on homeland security, education and healthcare combined.”

National Debt Clock in NY, IRS BuildingAs of today, the national debt is over 9 TRILLION dollars. The only president in the last 35 years to attempt to reduce the national debt was Clinton in 1999, when we had a budget surplus. At that time the debt was a little over 3.6 TRILLION dollars. Now I hear all the time from my banking institutions, creditors, family and industry professionals that having a high debt and more so growing that debt is a VERY bad thing… so I can’t imagine as smart as we assume our politicians to be, that we continue to grow this.

Either way, I’ll continue to eat well in a more cost friendly way, I’ll continue to live well in creative ways but I do hope our future leaders look to do the same for the American people: get creative in reducing our debt without sacrificing services like police, fire departments, security, education, healthcare, libraries, and parks. We’ve already seen the results of sacrificing public services, in Katrina, infrastructure failures (bridges), and limited funding of our national recreational parks.

Anyhoo… if you don’t have it, get Netflix, reduce your tv watching usage (it’s all crap anyway except for Meerkat Manor, Current TV or Fuel TV), check out this flick and save your money – you’ll be needing more of it soon.

7 Deadly Sins

You got Spitz’d!

No need to cover this at lengths, it’s all over the news and an hourly topic here in New York since the NYTimes broke the story. Already though I’m tired of hearing about it.

First I do think prostitution should be legal, regulated and taxed like it is in Nevada. Too many women take to the life because they are fucked up and end up getting further fucked up, diseased, under the strong pimp hand or worse. That’s a debate for another time, however, what gov’na perv was caught doing was a result of arrogance and stupidity, unbecoming of a public official (especially one running under a platform of reform and ethics) and he should resign before he’s impeached.

I’m not talking stupid in the sense of paying $4K for a whore, although —> one is not likely to talk to a guy like Spitz even if he wasn’t married, however, I’m talking about stupid shit like calling the Emperor line from the attorney general’s office in Brooklyn, N.Y. (caller ID fool!), laundering his whore stash money through his own accounts (10 to 18 months prison term alone), using high profile locations like the Mayflower Hotel in DC, transporting whores across state lines (federal offense according to the old Mann Act), and finally not taking his own advice:

“Never talk when you can nod, and never nod when you can wink, and never write an e-mail because it’s death,” the then-New York attorney general said. “You’re giving prosecutors all the evidence we need.” Gov Spitzer’s advice to John’s

There are several angles developing from this. Spitzer had many enemies because he went after unethical financial institutions (the NY stock exchanged cheered for the scandal and then went up 400 points *unrelated to the fed influx of money I’m sure*) , politicians, public officials (reining in scandalous financial arrangements by public office officials), brought liberal laws to the forefront (same sex marriage law introduced) and even illegal sex related activities (sex trafficking laws increased). There’s some underlining stories that claim, those enemies were looking for ways to out him, reviewing his campaign financing, taxes etc and just happened to stumble into the gold-diggers ditch.

“He had the highest popularity ratings in the history of New York,” said New York Republican Congressman Peter King. “He had everything going his way, and over the last year he let his lust for power and his hypocrisy keep him from doing his job and has now brought about his destruction.”

David Letterman’s Top 10 Spitzer Excuses (note that Number 1 being first on the list and #10 being actually Dave’s #1):

  1. Oh come on, like you were never involved in a prostitution ring
  2. Hookers is fun
  3. Just trying to help the economy
  4. Have you ever been to Albany?
  5. It’s part of my new MTV prank show “Spitz’d”
  6. Haven’t been myself since Roy Schieder died
  7. Uh, tainted beef?
  8. Whether it’s a hooker or your wife, you’re always paying for it — you married fellas know what I’m talking about
  9. Wanted to be known as the Charlie Sheen of politics
  10. I thought Bill Clinton legalized this years ago

So this is what $4,300 can get you for a few hours? The New York Times interviewed “Kristen,” nee Ashley Youmans, now Ashley Alexandra Dupre (her Myspace page), age 22. She is an aspiring singer who lives in New York City and worked for Emperors Club VIP:



Lifestyle

Ghosts in the system

The other night I was short on cash and lost my ATM card so I decided to take the subway back rather than a cab. I get down in the track and there’s not a sole on the platform. I think sometimes just having the unruly bum or a few tourists around is much more comfortable than the silence pierced by the occasional water droplets or rat scurrying noises. Creepy:

Lifestyle

Apple now full of Air?

Apple released this week their latest innovation – the MacBook Air.

A steller new laptop at only 3 lbs and fits in an envelop (according to the commercial). We’ve seen small thin laptops before from Sony, Sharp etc. but the innovation here is the attention to wireless connectivity for everything you do. Connecting to computers, drives, internet etc. Everything is wireless. Many will come out and say it’s full of flaws here and there, but there certainly is a market, from the gadget gear heads to the apple enthusiasts.

With the intention of being light, the focus may not be for travelers. The greatest feature is the full keyboard, but unlike most travel laptops, the Air also has a full screen, which great for the hanging at Irving, won’t help you on the cramped airline seats.

One of the most unique features in the sense that it’s missing is there’s no optical drive. No way to add music, programs via CD or watch movies. However there is a add on MacBook Air SuperDrive for $100 more which connects wirelessly. Again though, for those on flights the batter limitation maybe a problem.

Which to me it the worst mistake Apple continues to make. No replaceable battery. There needs to be an option to carry a spare or remove your information cleanly if you need to take it into the genius center for replacement.

Want to use Ethernet when there’s no wireless? There’s a USB to Cat5 converter

Want to use the laptop on a long flight? get a MagSafe Airline Adapter.

Want to print? buy a wireless print server, or printer to connect to.

Want to back up your data before shipping the unit back to replace the battery? You probably already own Time Capsule.

It’s very sweet but very proprietary and expensive ($1800/$3100). Obviously there’s a smaller market for this laptop than the casual computer user or the multi-device hound.

Apple has consistently shaken up the market place with not just their attention to tech innovation but to the consumer drive to own something both functional and stylish. They did it with the iPod, even though it’s not the best or most stable MP3 device. They are doing it with the iPhone even though it’s not the best or first touch mobile device and they’ll do it with this computer all because it comes down to ease of use, function and style.

Wake up, everything is going wireless and computer software is moving to the “cloud” – meaning, there will be no more drives, no more CDs, no more DVDs,… it will all eventually be on the net. IBM, Google are doing it and now Apple is contributing to that vision by creating hardware inline with that vision.
Google Gets Ready to Rumble With Microsoft [NY Times]

As Tom Cruise would say “Man you’re either in or your out, we have no time for spectators”